Dear Maria,
Can you help me with the following? They are all from Seneca’s Epistles.

1. rursus arida et corripi facilia scintillam quoque (XVIII. 15)
Could you explain the grammar of “corripi facilia scintillam”?

2. numquam enim usque eo te abigam generis humani furore damnato (XIX.2)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. Deinde videbunt de isto quibus integra sunt et prima consilia (XIX.3)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. Ut ipsa intra se vita unus sit omnium actionum dissensione coloris (XX.2)
Could you give a literal translation?
Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1.In “…rursus arida et corripi facilia scintillam quoque fovent usque in incendium” (XVIII. 15) - literally meaning “…on the contrary  (rursus) dry  materials/substances (arida, nominative neuter plural referring to the previous “solida”, i.e. solid materials) and easy (facilia, referring to “solida”) to be seized [by fire] (corripi, present infinitive passive of “corripio”) nourish /foster (fovent) also (quoque) a spark (scintillam) up a burning/conflagration( usque in incendium)”-  the grammar of  “corripi facilia scintillam” is the following:  “corripi” is the present passive infinitive depending on the neuter plural “facilia” which in its turn refers to “solida” meaning “solid materials/substances”, while “scintillam”, followed by the conjunction “quoque”, is an accusative depending on the verb “fovent”.
Hence Gummere’s translation:” …conversely, dry and easily inflammable stuff nourishes the slightest spark into a conflagration”, just to say that solid materials do not nourish a very great fire, while  dry and easily inflammable materials nourish the slightest spark into  a great fire, like a mighty anger produces madness (see “ingentis irae exitus furor est”, last words in XVIII,15)

2. Here’s the literal translation of “ numquam enim usque eo te abigam generis humani furore damnato, ut latebram tibi aliquam parari et oblivionem velim” (XIX.2):”never (numquam) in fact (enim) I would remove (abigam, potential subjunctive.See AG 446-447) you (te) from  disapproved (damnato)  madness (furore) of human race (generic humani) to such a point/so far (eo, adverb. Old Dative and Ablative form of the pronoun) that (ut) I want (velim) that a kind of (aliquam) hiding-place (latebram, subject of the object- clause) and oblivion (et oblivionem, other subject of the infinitive clause) are prepared (parari, present infinitive passive)  for you (tibi)  ”.

In short, Seneca says that he condemn all men as mad (see “furore damnato”), but however he would not want that Lucilius seeks for himself a hiding-place and oblivion where he can live in complete solitude.

3. “Deinde videbunt de isto quibus integra sunt et prima consilia, an velint vitam per obscurum transmittere” (XIX.3) literally means:”Then (deinde) [those], to whom (quibus, dative of possession) free (integra) and first (prima) decisions (consilia) belong /are up (sunt), will deliberate (videbunt) on that question (de istō) , whether (an)  they wish (velint) to pass (transmittere) [their] live (vitam) in obscurity (per obscurum)”.

In short, Seneca wants to point out that some persons can pass their lives in obscurity, whereas Lucilius innate qualities and charm of writings have  made him famous, so that he cannot pass his live in obscurity.

4. “…philosophia…hoc exigit ……ut ipsa intra se vita unius sit omnium actionum sine dissensione coloris “(XX.2) literally means:” philosophy (philosophia)… requires (exigit) this (hoc), ….that (ut) the very (ipsa)  inner /within her (intra se) life (vita) of everybody (unius, i.e. uniuscuiusque) is (sit) without (sine) incompatibility/difference (dissensione) of colour (coloris) of/ with all activities /actions (omnium actionum)”, just to emphasize that philosophy requires that every man lives coherently so that his inner life is not out of harmony with all his activities.
In short, our life must be always consistent with our words and actions.

Best regards,


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.


Over 25 years teaching experience.

I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

This expert accepts donations:

©2017 All rights reserved.